CM Tuki’s plea for more time rejected, to face floor test tomorrow

  • Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times, Itanagar
  • Updated: Jul 15, 2016 19:27 IST
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki holds a meeting after assuming charge in Itanagar. (PTI Photo)

Arunachal Pradesh governor Tathagata Roy on Friday declined Supreme Court-reinstated chief minister Nabam Tuki’s plea to defer his trial of strength.

The governor, officiating for JP Rajkhowa who is recovering from a surgery, had on Thursday asked Tuki to prove his majority in the floor of the state legislative assembly on Saturday.

Tuki, accompanied by home minister Tanga Byaling, called on the governor at the Raj Bhavan at about 1:30pm after a meeting of his cabinet. Tuki sought at least 10 days’ time, informing Roy of the possibility of his attending the Inter-State Council meeting of chief ministers scheduled in Delhi on Saturday.

However, the governor told Tuki that his government did not command the required majority in the assembly and advised him to prove his majority on Saturday. “He also emphasised that sense of security amongst the people must prevail and deterrent action must be taken to ensure fool-proof law and order in the state,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson said.

Read| It’s a political potboiler in Arunachal as BJP, Cong fight over MLAs

Arunachal Pradesh had plunged into political crisis in November after 21 of the Congress’ 47 legislators rebelled against chief minister Nabam Tuki. The Congress was reduced to 26 in the 60-member assembly.

Tuki was ousted as CM and the Centre imposed President’s rule on January 26. The leader of the Congress dissidents’ faction, Kalikho Pul, was sworn in as chief minister on February 19 with the support of 20 rebel Congress legislators and 11 BJP MLAs.

But in a “historic” judgement on Wednesday, the Supreme Court restored the state assembly to its state before December 15, when the new session was called — which means the dismissal of the Congress government, President’s Rule and the new administration have all been declared invalid.

Who stands where in Arunachal Pradesh assembly
People’s Party of Arunachal 30
Congress 15
Bharatiya Janata Party 11
Independent 2
House strength (after two resignations) 58

Experts, however, indicate the Congress has an uphill task in proving its majority as it has just 15 members in the 60-member assembly.

Tuki’s rival and former chief minister Kalikho Pul has the support of 43 MLAs, including 30 of his own party, People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) — which had formed a rebel Congress government in February before becoming a regional party.

But Tuki said the SC’s judgement automatically made the PPA legislators members of the Congress. This, according to him, puts the number of Congress MLAs at 45.

Earlier in the day, Tuki had written to the governor saying his decision on the floor test was “inadequate, unwarranted and hasty” and sought “reasonable time”.

He said, “The direction to prove my majority on or before July 16 gives me less than 48 hours time since my arrival in Itanagar today (on Thursday). Many of my colleagues/MLAs are out of station and I am trying to contact them.”

Tuki also cited the Sarkaria Commission report that recommended enough time for an assembly to be summoned for a chief minister to prove his majority.

The panel’s report said: “What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each case. Generally, a period of 30 days will be reasonable unless there is very urgent business to be transacted, such as passing the budget, in which case a shorter period may be indicated.”

State Congress president Padi Richo told Hindustan Times that the party will issue a whip to all its 45 MLAs (including the 30 PPA members). “We will issue whip for all Congress MLAs will vote for Tuki,” he said, confident that Tuki will sail through.

Meanwhile, Pul and 34 other MLAs who have been camping in Guwahati are expected to reach Naharlagun (where the assembly is situated) on Saturday morning. Nalarlagun is 12 km from Itanagar.

The equations:

1. Congress claims it has 45 MLAs since Wednesday’s SC judgement turns the clock back to December 15 last year when the PPA members belonged to the Congress but had revolted against Tuki

2. The 30-member PPA claims it has 43 MLAs that includes 11 of BJP and two independents who had supported Kalikho Pul’s PPA government from February 19 until SC reinstated Tuki on Wednesday

Why the whip:

A party issues a whip to prevent MLAs from voting against it in the House; any MLA defying the whip can be disqualified.

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